Fierceness The Favorite: Breaking Down The 2024 Kentucky Derby Betting Field

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 29, 2024 - Last Updated on May 1, 2024
Exterior of Churchill Downs for a story breaking down the 2024 Kentucky Derby betting field

New York bettors have a two-sided view of the fabled Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

One involves the race itself. Churchill Downs marks the 150th the running of the first jewel in racing’s Triple Crown by raising the purse to a record $5 million. A field of up to 20 stalks that prize in the 1 ¼-mile classic starting at approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.

The second is the Derby’s link to the Belmont Stakes, which will be run June 8 at Saratoga Race Course while Belmont Park undergoes construction.

Triple Crown possibilities begin with the Kentucky Derby winner and are often played out in New York. Should the Derby victor also prevail at the Preakness Stakes on May 18, the Belmont hosts a potential Triple Crown coronation. The last Triple Crown in horse racing occurred when Justify captured the 2018 Belmont Stakes.

The Triple Crown is in a celebratory phase. Substantial purse increases unfold for all three, as the Preakness and Belmont Stakes have been boosted to a record $2 million. It all begins at Churchill Downs, and PlayNY is here to break down the Kentucky Derby betting landscape, which you can take a part of in the NY horse betting industry thanks to FanDuel Racing.

Breakding down the Kentucky Derby betting favorite Fierceness

New York bettors saw John Velazquez guide Resilience to a Derby-stamping victory in the Wood Memorial at 9-2 betting odds.

But Johnny V won’t ride him here. He’s aboard favored Fierceness, with a 5-2 morning line, trying to annex another Triple Crown victory.

Velazquez won the Derby with Animal Kingdom (2011), Always Dreaming (2017), Authentic (2020) and Medina Spirit (2021, although the horse was later disqualified for a failed drug test). Velazquez captured the 2023 Preakness with National Treasure and owns two Belmont Stakes champions with Rags to Riches (2017) and Union Rags (2012).

Fierceness has the highest Beyer speed figure of 110 in this race, 12 above second-favored Sierra Leone, 98. Mystik Dan sported a 101 earlier in the campaign, but that was on slop.

The Beyer speed figure measures a horse’s time on a given race into a series of factors that include track surface, the track record and other performances on that day. (For what it’s worth, Derby conditions are expected to be ideal and sunny on Saturday.)

Anything over 100 is excellent, and indicative of a major Kentucky Derby contender.

Velazquez was aboard Fierceness for that eye-popping 110 in the Florida Derby on March 30.

Post positions could play major role on Saturday

Fierceness breaks from a difficult outside post, 17. His ability to get to the front without being too heavily used will have a significant impact on the result.

Some bettors may support the idea that the 17 post has never won the Derby, for some bizarre reason. Either way, it’s not a comfortable post position for the favorite.

Sierra Leone has a similar difficult assignment on the inside. He breaks from the 2-hole, with speed-favoring Dornoch forced to veer slightly to the right from his rail post. Sierra Leone will have a tight squeeze.

New York gamblers got a preview of this Derby matchup back in December. Dornoch nudged Sierra Leone in an epic Remsen Stakes finish at Aqueduct.

Since that time, Sierra Leone has improved dramatically. He beat Dornoch by roughly five lengths in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6. That’s why Dornoch opened at 20-1 betting odds.

Post PositionHorseTrainerJockeyMorning Line
1DornochDanny GarganLuis Saez20-1
2Sierra LeoneChad BrownTyler Gaffalione3-1
3Mystik DanKenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr.20-1
4Catching FreedomBrad CoxFlavien Prat8-1
5CatalyticSaffie Joseph Jr.Jose Ortiz30-1
6Just SteelWayne LukasKeith Asmussen20-1
7Honor MarieWhit BeckmanBen Curtis20-1
8Just A TouchBrad CoxFlorent Geroux10-1
9EncinoBrad CoxAxel Concepcion20-1
10TO PasswordDaisuke TakayanagiKazushi Kimura30-1
11Forever YoungYoshito YahagiRyusei Sakai10-1
12Track PhantomSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario20-1
13West SaratogaLarry DemeritteJesus Castanon50-1
14EndlesslyMichael McCarthyUmberto Rispoli30-1
15Domestic ProductChad BrownIrad Ortiz Jr.30-1
16Grand Mo The FirstVictor Barboza Jr.Emisael Jaramillo50-1
17FiercenessTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez5-2
18StrongholdPhil D'AmatoAntonio Fresu20-1
19ResilienceBill MottJunior Alvarado20-1
20Society ManDanny GarganFrankie Dettori50-1

Kentucky Derby should sport honest pace

Fierceness figures to vie with Dornoch, Track Phantom and Encino, among others, in what could be a hotly-contested pace.

If the pace is strong, Sierra Leone and Catching Freedom (4) have a significant advantage coming for home. They are the top closers, along with Honor Marie. Catching Freedom has a 97 Beyer.

If Fierceness breaks free for an uncontested lead, this could be a battle for second and third place.

If he’s engaged, the closers have an excellent chance. There’s no way to know which scenario unfolds. That’s the beauty of this race.

Other contenders who will gain play

Mystik Dan (3), Honor Marie (7), Just Steel (6), Just a Touch (8) and Resilience (19) are all viable to hit the board and will probably sport an excellent price.

Some quality horses in a field this large are going to be overlooked. And New York bettors may throw a loyalty deuce on Society Man in exotics (exacta, trifecta, superfecta) wagering pools. He captured second in the Wood behind Resilience at a whopping 99-1.

Japan sends two entries to Kentucky Derby

One of them, Forever Young, is very good. He is 5-for-5 lifetime and captured the UAE Derby, sprinting just under 1 ¼ miles, in March. The knock on him is that the time was two seconds slower than Derma Sotogake, who shipped here from that race last year.

Derma Sotogake ran second and later proved to be a very good horse by taking second in the Breeders’ Cup.

TO Password’s chances will be stamped right into his name for many gamblers. He claimed Japan’s automatic entry into the Derby, but has run at lower levels. This is a monumental leap forward.

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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